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Traditional Native American Recipes for the New Year

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

Meeting the Santee Sioux

Meeting the Santee Sioux

Elder's Meditations for the New Year

"The way of knowledge is like our old way of hunting. You begin with a mere trail—a footprint. If you follow that faithfully, it may lead you to a clearer trail—a track—a road. Later on there will be many tracks, crossing and diverging one from the other. Then you must be careful, for success lies in the choice of the right road."

—Many Lightnings Eastman, Santee Sioux


An entire apple tree is initially contained in the seed. Visions are initially contained in the idea.

If you trace the path of a blooming flower backwards, it goes from the blooming flower back to a bud, back to a stem, back to a seed. So it is in the way of knowledge.

Often we will experience a hunch or a feeling that we are supposed to do something. At first it may not make any sense. This is the seed stage.

Once we start to investigate, more gets revealed. As more is revealed, the more knowledge we get. This is the way the Great Spirit guides us. Great Spirit, help me to choose the right choices.

Traditional cooking vessel

Traditional cooking vessel

New Year's Native North American Soup

Prep time: 3 hours

Cook time: 2 hours

Ready in: 5 hours


  • 1/4 lb salt pork
  • 3 tomatoes, cored
  • 1 chili pepper, dried and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 lb dried lima beans
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 large sprig parsley
  • 2 onions, sliced


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  1. Soak lima beans in 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of water for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse beans.
  3. Put beans into a large pot and cover with 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) water.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour.
  5. Uncover the pot and simmer for 1 more hour and serve hot with blue corn mush (see recipe below).

Yield: Several servings

Blue corn

Blue corn

New Year's Blue Corn Mush


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups blue Cornmeal (or substitute white or yellow cornmeal)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil


  1. Bring salted water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Stir or whisk in the cornmeal.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and stir the cornmeal and water for 10 minutes or until it tastes done to your individual taste.
  4. Pour the cooked mixture onto a cookie sheet or a bread pan and set it aside to cool for an hour or until it is firm.
  5. After cooling, slice the cornmeal mush it into slices for frying.
  6. Fry the slices in butter, bacon grease, lard or oil until lightly browned on both sides.
  7. Sprinkle a little red chili or paprika, or something sweet like honey or sugar, on top before serving.
Fry bread

Fry bread

Native American Fry Bread

This is what eventually became cinnamon toast and the elephant ear among the English farmers of eastern Ohio.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon lard, divided
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • Oil


  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Cut in 2 tablespoons lard until crumbly.
  3. Add milk and water mix until you have a soft dough.
  4. Knead until dough is springy.
  5. From 12 dough balls.
  6. Melt 1 tablespoon lard and brush on each ball and let set for 30-45 minutes to rise.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into an 8" diameter circle.
  8. Poke a small hole in the center of each circle.
  9. Fry the breads in oil heated to 365°F until light brown on both sides.
  10. Serve with honey, jelly, or brown sugar and cinnamon.

Yield: 12 fry breads

Framework of a sweatlodge

Framework of a sweatlodge

New Year's Pudding


  • 2 cups raisins
  • 3 cups milk, scalded
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter or lard


  1. Scald the first 3 cups milk and add the raisins.
  2. Mix 1 cup cold milk with the cornmeal and stir all this into the hot milk.
  3. Heat the new mixture slowly, stirring constantly, for 12-15 minutes until the mixture is thick.
  4. Mix in the molasses, salt, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and butter, margarine or even lard.
  5. Pour all into a buttered 2-quart baking dish.
  6. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup COLD milk into the center of this pudding.
  7. Set the filled dish into a pan of cold water and place all into a 300°F oven for 2 hours or until knife stuck into center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for several hours to prevent it from falling apart and then serve with whipped cream or homemade ice cream.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

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